Cover image for Jim's lion
Jim's lion
Hoban, Russell, author.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2014.

Physical Description:
77 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
A young boy who is afraid of the operation that can help him get well learns to overcome his fear with the help of a caring nurse.
Reading Level:
Elementary Grade.

560 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.4 0.5 56694.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.2 3 Quiz: 65457.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Graphic Novel Childrens Area

On Order



Russell Hoban's moving, unflinching tale of a boy who finds bravery during illness is reimagined in graphic-novel format with new art by Alexis Deacon.

Asleep in his hospital bed, Jim dreams of a great lion with white teeth and amber eyes. This lion is Jim's finder. According to Nurse Bami, everyone has a finder, a creature who comes looking for us when we are lost. But when the time comes for Jim's operation, will his lion be able to find him and bring him safely home? Dramatically reimagined as a graphic novel by award-winning illustrator Alexis Deacon, with the inclusion of powerful dream sequences, Russell Hoban's tale of a boy's search for strength and courage will resonate with any child dealing with adversity.

Author Notes

Russell Hoban was born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania on February 4, 1925. He attended art school in Philadelphia and during World War II, he served in the Army and earned a Bronze Star. He taught art in New York and Connecticut, and also worked as an advertising copywriter and a freelance illustrator before beginning his career as a writer.

He began publishing children's books in the late 1950s, including What Does It Do and How Does It Work?, Bedtime for Frances and the six other books featuring Frances, The Story of Hester Mouse Who Became a Writer, What Happened When Jack and Daisy Tried to Fool the Tooth Fairies, and The Mouse and His Child, which was adapted as an animated film in 1977.

In 1973, he published his first adult novel, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz. His other books for adults include Turtle Diary, Pilgermann, and Ridley Walker. He received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award for Ridley Walker. He died on December 13 at the age of 86. In 2015 he made the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist for his title Jim's Lion wth illlustrator Alexis Deacon.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-4, younger with an adult. In this oversize picture book for older children, Jim, who is very sick, is worried that if he is put to sleep during an operation that "the doctors might send me somewhere that I can't get back from." Friendly nurse Bami, from Africa, tells him about the "finder," an animal "in [his] head," that can look for him and bring him back. She teaches him to imagine a place that makes him feel good, where he will discover his finder. Then she presents him with a small gift that helps him face his fears and gather the courage to embrace his finder, a lion. Soft pastel illustrations, including a number of large close-ups, provide a gentle companion to this complex, touching story that will make a good springboard for discussing difficult questions about hospitalization and mortality. --Cynthia Turnquest

Publisher's Weekly Review

This mysterious story by veteran Hoban (The Mouse and His Child) may be more likely to frighten children confronting a hospital stay than to allay their fears. Young Jim is afraid that when the doctors put him to sleep, they might send him "somewhere that [he] can't get back from." Nurse Bami, originally from Africa, suggests that he has an animal "finder," and that she would "have been dead three or four times already" if not for her own "finder." Through a series of dreams and with the help of Bami's "don't-run stone," he discovers his finder; on the day of his surgery Jim bravely follows it a steady, amber-eyed lion into the "dark." While Hoban (The Mouse and His Child) sensitively develops the relationship between Jim and Bami, the book's discussions about illness may lead children to worries they might not otherwise have considered (e.g., when Jim's parents ask whether he will get better, the doctor answers ominously, "It depends... on what Jim has going for him"). Andrew's (The Midnight Man) luminous, soft pencil and pastel illustrations accentuate the warmth between Jim and Bami, and create intriguing dream sequences of scumbled images and pale stars. But with its complicated plot and its convoluted theme, this tale may perplex rather than soothe its intended audience. Ages 6-10. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Critically ill children, a population largely absent from the picture-book world, will now have a hero in Jim. There are no happily ever afters, but instead the realistic victory of courage in the face of surgery, and a Christmas morning spent at home rather than in the hospital. Jim faces an unnamed but clearly life-threatening illness with the help of Nurse Bami. Described as being from Africa and with "tribal scars on her cheeks," she shares with him the idea of a finder who will bring him back from the place he enters-induced sleep. The successful aftermath of the operation is not revealed through the expected hospital scene; the story takes a chronological leap from Jim's dream of his finder, the lion of the title, to his post-release holiday at home. Large, soft illustrations are worked around sizable blocks of text to show an expressive, tow-headed child; a magnificent lion; and loving adults. Movement is shown as a progression of figures, multiple Jims climbing to the top of a cliff, several lions as the animal comes nearer and nearer. Breathtaking pastels in understated blues, greens, and tans with subtle pencil cross-hatching perfectly match the quiet courage of the boy depicted in the gracefully simple text.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.